Saturday, December 22, 2007

This dates to April 8, 2005.

A giant has been laid to rest.

The man's achievements have already been touched on at length here. To catalog the man's achievements is beyond the scope of the brief words I wish to say here; but we all owe a moment of silence for a man who, no matter what else you might say of him, with two other giants (one of whom already sits with his Maker), destroyed the most evil edifice ever created by Men.

Others, however, are already intent on making something of this great man that he was not, for their own ends. That it is inevitable does not make it right, or even excusable. And they must be condemned.

There are, of course, different ways to distort the man's memory.

There is, for example, unyielding hate. (Actually, read that whole diatribe through when you get a minute. I found it hilarious. I'm also proud to agree with at least this much: "Understand that no other organization with as many resources and as many spheres of influence is as obstructionist in matters of family planning as the Catholic Church." Preach on, sister.)

There is also the desire to say that his approach to poverty meant that he was a little bit a "progressive," too.

Yes, and I'm a fluffy white cloud.

I don't mean to pick on Markos in this. He's just a fat, slow-moving target here. And the funny part is that he's wrong and right. More wrong than right, but let's be generous and discuss the latter first.

Although apparently consumed with the need to see political machination where it is not, Markos is actually more or less on target with the "thought" behind this:

I don't want to claim the church as "liberal", and the conservatives should keep their grubby little fingers of(sic) it as well, lest they find the church they think is theirs -- an extension of Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition -- is anything but.
Christianity simply is. It is not Left or Right. The radical preference for the poor stems from the same impulse that lends so much importance to the individual as an individual (for only men by their own consciences may elect the path of Christ). The Catholic Church is no more a bunch of left-liberals (that's the Jesuits) than it is so many rightists. The same impulse that repeatedly cautions against war, opposes rampant application of the death penalty, and demands a radical preference for the poor is the same impetus for demanding the end of the executions of millions of unborn children, and seeking an end to terminating the inconvenient. True, the Church is an institution that pays great heed to Tradition (and uses the proper noun, no less); but that Tradition resists the mere application of political labels.

Now, for the litany of errors:

Just remember, as Republicans try to embrace the Pope as part of their efforts to woe Catholics to the Dark Side, that the Pope was a fervent opponent of the Iraq invasion and was staunch death penalty foe. His Catholic Church is more commited to social justice than most.
First, it is not "his" Catholic Church more than it is mine, unless this means "The Catholic Church under his stewardship," in which case it's still wrong, because the Church is no different than it was before him, and will be no different tomorrow.

Second, we once again need to revisit some basics. The Church's opposition to the Iraq War and to the death penalty are not matters of doctrine, unlike the teachings on abortion and euthanasia. If we must ascribe labels based on the hot button issues of the day, I must sadly inform you one and all that the unerring and timeless opposition to the murder of unborn children weighs more heavily on the ledger than the prudential judgment that there is no longer a need for a death penalty.

The Catholic Church has always been committed to social justice. What this does not mean, however, is that the Church is committed to "progressivism"; that the Church is committed to unrepentant socialism or unrepentant capitalism as the means to effect this change; or that the imperative to clothe the poor somehow equates to the imperative to prevent the slaughter of children before they can be clothed.

Which rather nicely segues into the finale: I give you the most inappropriate obituary ever. Nothing says respect for a departed man like having someone who opposed this Pope at every turn pen your magazine's last words on the subject. Bravo.

But Carroll, benighted idiot though he might be, is nevertheless useful for making the larger point: So great was John Paul's touch on this world that even a moral midget like Carroll feels a need to appropriate the man -- transforming him into a pacifist (and, in Carroll's little mind, someday likely a Pius XII accuser). Without touching too much on the Tragedy of James Carroll, suffice it to say that simply because this most recent pope opposed many recent wars does not make him a pacifist.

Suffice it also to say that it does no credit to John Paul's memory (though it hardly does harm, so great is his legacy) for the assorted moral short bus riders to make him all things to all people.

Let it go, folks. He forgave you while he was alive. No need to use him now that he's dead.

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